When traveling around the Iceland, I was fortunate enough to observe the sunset and sunrise as I had only one clear night. This happened on 15. june, that is still few days away from solstice when the day is the longest in the year. At that time I was in the most northern part of my trip (near Sauðárkrókur) and that also helped to further lengthen the time that the Sun was above the horizon.
Not knowing the exact direction to the north (only rough direction) and the path by which the Sun will move across the sky, I selected the observing location at the beach that had the most unobstructed horizon in the northward way.
The whole sunset took more than half an hour. Truly, I did not expect for it to be so sluggish, and the angle between the horizon and path of the Sun to be so small. The most remarkable was a color of the Sun surface just before it completely set and when it begun to rise. It’s surface shone with a intense green color, probably due to large refraction differences at the horizon.
The Sun was actually bellow the horizon for just about 15 minutes. During that time there was no apparent visual change in the brightness of the sky.
After that the main ring road leads you toward the Vik city that is surrounded by the largest black sand beach. While walking along the beach you can spot many hexagonal basalt column formations that were formed as the lava was cooling down.
Iceland is full of mythology and sagas that explain how first people lived there and what they believed in. Alongside the road you can find many boards with inscriptions about the events or disasters that happened there. Two of many places like this are:
Following the road ahead you arrive in the vicinity of the Skaftafell National Park. I would strongly recommend that, when there you follow a hiking trail into the mountains when you pass numerous waterfalls and at the end of the trail you can admire a view of the glacier from above.
The best part of the glacier is still ahead of you. Just around the “corner” along the road awaits a Glacier Lagoon with its different shades of blue. I never realized that the snow and ice can produce such a palette of colours. From white to cyan, colour of almost transparent pieces of ice.
When traveling to Iceland be prepared to harsh and unpredictable weather. It can change every 15 minutes and during my trip I experience everything from sunny weather to windy and rainy conditions and even snowfall. It usually rains every day at least for few minutes so bring waterproof clothing with you.
For my 12 days trip around the Iceland I decided to first take the ring road in the anticlockwise direction. After leaving the Keflavik airport, the first obvious stop is the infamous Blue Lagoon and its colorful surrounding.
The next day led me to the Golden Circle area, with the stops at Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall. Starting from the Gullfoss the road (with proper 4×4 wheel drive car) leads to the highland landscape. Here I was able to see some of the largest rental jeeps meant for the exploration of the wilderness.
There is plenty of water running around the country thus some of the next stops were connected with it. The first of them is Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It actually consists of multiple waterfalls separated by a few hundred meters. For the best view of the surrounding area you have to ascend on the top of the waterfall.
The next watery stop was at the Skogafoss waterfall. Most of the tourist here observes only the first waterfall of many upstream. Take your time here and go for a shorter walk and visit the other more distant one that are not visible from the main road. Strongly recommended!
This year I decided to visit one of the biggest Comic Cons in Europe, the London Film and Comic Con. Purpose of the visit was not to gather signatures and the photos of movie/comic stars, but the see and experience the event.
On preview night in Friday there was entrance queue, halls were calm and you could visited the stalls in peace. Saturday was just the opposite. When I arrived (around 9:30) the queues for both the Early Birds and no tickets were wrapped twice around the exhibition hall. Fortunately I found one that moved were quickly and was inside in less than half an hour. Some with no prepaid tickets were not so lucky and had to wait 5 or more hours just to buy the ticket.
In front of the Brompton Hall there were four different Transformer cars (two Bumblebees, Optimus Prime and Barricade) on diplay.
Cosplayers were every where. Inside and outside the hall and always happy to pose for the pictures.
I visited some of the free talks given by the Star Trek, Star Wars and LoTR cast members. Philip talked about his role of many Orcs, the process of getting in and out of the costume. David (Faramir) described how all the scenes in extended version of the movies were shoot after all the movies were already done and shown in cinema.
In addition to the Transformer cars, two replicas of Batmobils were on display in Brompton Hall. First from the movie released in 1966, the second (with very dusty surface) from the 1989 movie. Way more photos can be seen in gallery.
Overall I was pleased with the event (various guests, cosplayers, stalls, free talks, cars on display …), but there were many bad things (overcrowding, bad sound system at super stage, strange queue systems for photo shuts, raffle and programme …) that should be corrected for the next events.
In the middle of September a group of five amateur astronomers went on an 10 day trip to La Palma island in Spain. The first week was devoted to observing the night sky on the top of the caldera and sightseeing around the island. Last four days we attended the 31st International Meteor Conference. Here are some pictures of the massive telescopes and sights we were able to admire on the island.
One of the twin Magic gama-ray telescopes with a diameter of 17 meters.
World’s largest 10.4 meter segmented primary mirror inside Gran Telescope Canaries.
William Herschel telescope with 4.2 meter primary mirror.
William Herschel telescope, next to a small RoboDIMM automated seeing measurement telescope.
Inside the Isaac Newton observatory.
Every night we observed the sky at the top of the caldera near the Roque de Los Muchachos observatory.
Gran Telescope Canaries at the sunset.
Long exposure star trails over the GTC and Residencia.
Zodiacal light and bright planet Venus.
Summer time Milky Way towards the Constellation Sagittarius, including the Galactic Center.
As you can see from the pictures bellow even the sites with best atmospheric conditions are not free of the light pollution. Professional astronomers should take the matter into their hands if they hope to continue with the observations in the coming decades.
Photo of the clouds with light pollution (orange) bellow and airglow (green) above them.
A look at the cities bellow the mountain and their light copulas above the cities.
For the end several other photos from travels through the island.
View of a Tenerife Island rising above the clouds.
Colorfull cliffs, Roque de Santo Domingo.
Waterfall at the La Palma tropical rainforest.
Walking inside the Caldera de Taburiente where the only vegetation are pine trees.